Last October, the Sheffield Wheat Experiment invited two hundred locals to plant wheat in their allotments, gardens, pots, public spaces or schools. Earlier this summer, the wheat was harvested, allowed to dry and then at a communal event held at Bloc Studios in late August, threshed. 130 kg of grain resulted: 2 kg went to local brewery, Grizzly Grains.
This brewery commenced in 2020, brewing at the owner’s home in Walkley, Sheffield. In March, this year, they moved to a 4.5 Bbl. plant in an industrial unit close to Bramall Lane. Their original brewing kit, now the seventy-two litre mini-kit, was obtained from Crosspool Ale Makers. When Crosspool became a cuckoo, their newer plant was purchased by Grizzly Grains, owner and brewer, Sam Bennett. The brewery name came from his young daughter. Originally, Operations Manager at Heeley City farm, Sam now splits his time between the brewery and the farms honey operation, the unit acting as headquarters for both.
Two days before mashing, the grain was torrified (or as my spell-checker insisted: ‘terrified’). Using the large oven at the nearby Regather Co-operative, the wheat kernels were subjected to high-temperature heat treatment. This breaks down the cellular structure of the grain and pre-gelatinises the starches in the wheat so that they are easily broken down at mash temperatures. In beer, protein aids head retention by bringing foam quality and stability. Torrified wheat contains a higher percentage of protein than malted barley. Ideally, for good foam retention, 5/10% of the mash should be wheat.
On the 9 September, the mash for the Sheffield Wheat Experiment beer used spelt, crystal malt, rice husks and malted barley with the Sheffield-grown wheat forming the final 10%. Hops were a mix of East Kent and Northdown. The result was seventy-two litres : 210, 330 ml bottles of a Belgian style amber.
As for the rest of the grain: 1 kg will be seed for sewing in the Autumn and the remainder will become flour. For information about the Sheffield Wheat Experiment: thesheffieldwheatexperiment.co.uk